Multiple sclerosis responds to stem cell therapy

Still wondering what stem cell therapy might be good for? Wonder no more – a team from the University of Chicago have used stem cells to treat – and in some cases partially reverse – the effects of multiple sclerosis. The doctors…

… recruited 12 women and 11 men in the early relapsing-remitting stage of MS, who had not responded to treatment with the drug, interferon beta, after six months.

They removed stem cells from the patients’ bone marrow, and then used chemicals to destroy all existing immune cells in the body, before re-injecting the stem cells. These then developed into naïve immune cells that do not see myelin as alien, and hence do not attack it.

Three years later, 17 of the patients had improved by at least one point on a standard disability scale, while none of the patients had deteriorated.

Kinda like the biological equivalent of a complete oil change! Those are some pretty impressive results; I think we’re going to see a lot of awesome stuff come out of the stem cell field over the next decade, especially now there’s a US administration that isn’t actively hostile to it on moral grounds.

Looking further ahead, maybe the regenerative power of stem cells will eventually lead to the science fiction staple of rejuvenation treatments?